Category Archives: Cesar Franck’s Op 18

The Harmonium in Concert at St John’s, Smith Square

Fun concert with harmonium

Had never been to a classical music concert including a harmonium.

When I was young, some families had a harmonium instead of a piano and churches unable to afford an organ might have a harmonium instead. Piano shops certainly had one or two on display.

I had mixed feelings about the combination of harmonium with piano and strings at the concert at St John’s, Smith Square.

I loved the Cesar  Franck (1822-1890) Prelude, Fugue et Variation Op 18 for the Harmonium and Piano. Written by him for two of his students,  the haunting melodies made the combination of instruments really work.

For the rest, I didn’t feel the harmonium added to the works and for me adding the harmonium in the first piece – Wagner’s (1813-1883)Marsh der Meistersinger arranged by Karg-Elert (1877-1933) – spoiled the music, though I enjoyed two of the five Dvorak’s  (1841-1904) Bagatelles – the two jolly folk tunes.

I was surprised to find that it was Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) who had arranged the Johann Strauss (1825-1899)  waltz medley with which the whole ensemble finished the concert. Fun and making me want to tap my toes, I’m afraid it most reminded me of my youth and cinema organs!!

The four string instrumentalists – 2 violin’s, a viola and the cello – were excellent. Hope to see them in a Chamber Music concert some time.